Friday, April 20 , 2018, 11:39 am | Fair 62º


Local News

Public Weighs In On Venoco’s Oil Pipeline Project

The California State Lands Commission holds the first in a series of hearings on the project's environmental documents.

The California State Lands Commission held public hearings on Wednesday on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Venoco’s lease expansion and pipeline project, as the oil company pushes for intensified drilling off the Ellwood coast.

The first in a series of hearings on the project’s environmental document, Wednesday’s hearings, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., brought out criticism and support for the project, which would include 40 new wells from existing oil slots on Platform Holly, as well as a pipeline from the oil company’s Ellwood Onshore Facility to the All-American Pipeline tie-in 10 miles northwest of Goleta that would do away with the oil company’s existing barge operation.

The environmentally preferred alternative, according to the document, would be to bypass the city of Goleta altogether and build a pipe directly from the rig to the All-American tie-in, skipping the processing plant and doing away with the barge operation in one swoop. It’s an alternative with which “Venoco does not necessarily agree,” said Steve Radis, vice president of Marine Research Specialists, the company that put together the DEIR.

Venoco‘s plan to install a pipe from its EOF to the All-American Pipeline tie-in would have eliminated the barge operation, the only one of its kind left in California, but critics say it’s too little, too late.

“This is no favor,” said former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, who attended the evening session. She was the author of a bill that passed in 2003, which requires companies such as Venoco to transport oil by pipe should they expand their lease or add more wells.

“This is not a benefit, or mitigation,” she said.

Meanwhile, residents vented concerns about air quality and increased risks of oil spills and gas leaks identified in the DEIR, given recent leaks and ongoing suspicious smells said to be coming from either the oil rig, the Ellwood Marine Terminal, which stores the crude, or the barge Jovalan.

“I would like to see Venoco be gone as soon as possible,” Goleta Mayor Michael Bennett said.

At least one supporter came forward to push for Venoco’s increased drilling and the pipe that would come along with it.

“You can get rid of the barge and rid of the stinking tanks by November of 2009,” Tom Beckert said. If the project were allowed to go through with little challenge, he said, the pipeline from the EOF to the All-American tie-in could come sooner than later. The lease on the EMT, which is on UCSB property, expires in 2016, after which the oil company would have to do away with its barge and construct a pipe.

“It doesn’t make sense for anyone to resist this project and be complaining about the barge and tanks,” he said.

Public comment on the DEIR will be taken until 4 p.m. Aug. 25. Comments can be sent to Eric Gillies, staff environmental scientist, via e-mail at [email protected] or mailed to him at the Division of Environmental Planning and Management, State Lands Commission, 100 Howe Ave., Suite 100-South, Sacramento, CA 95825.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at [email protected]

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >